HMAS Toowoomba intercepts boat carrying 5 tonnes of drugs
MORE than five tonnes of drugs, worth around $280 million, was intercepted on a boat off the coast of Africa by HMAS Toowoomba last week.
The five-day Navy and New Zealand Air Force operation saw a dhow, a traditional sailboat, boarded by the Navy and an extensive search of the ship conducted.
The boarding party found tonnes of cannabis resin in hessian bags stowed in a hidden compartment on the ship.
HMAS Toowoomba is deployed to the region as part of Operation MANITOU, tasked to the Combined Maritime Forces and the Pakistan-led Combined Task Force 150.
Boarding officer Lieutenant Stefan Stuart said the drugs were well hidden and, once found, extremely difficult to access and remove.
"It is great to make an intercept of this magnitude, the weather was not on our side but our training and our persistence paid off," he said.
"Knowing that you are putting a crimp in the finances of terrorist organisations is a great feeling and will pay dividends for direct counter terrorism efforts elsewhere."
HMAS Toowoomba Commanding Officer Cath Hayes said the significant drug find was the result of close teamwork between Toowoomba and international partners in the Combined Maritime Forces.
"I am proud of the tenacity and hard work displayed by the Toowoomba team to intercept and board the dhow in challenging weather conditions before executing an extensive search of the vessel to locate the elaborately concealed drugs," she said. - APN NEWSDESK